Posts Categorized: Travel

First day in Barcelona

View from our apartment.

First off, S— was great. Took a three hour nap with all of us this afternoon. Slept moderately well on our laps for the flight. No one was prepared for the long lines in customs.

We’ve had part of a day exploring the neighborhood, eating tapas, and people watching. Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.

Landed in Barecelona and at our apartment.

Barcelona Bound

barcelona

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn http://go.shr.lc/297QKIR CC BY 2.0

Tomorrow, we head off to Barcelona for a two-and-a-half week vacation. Highs in the 80’s and lows in the 70’s. Looking forward to family time, new experiences, tasty food and wine, and an ocean-side escape from the heat of Arkansas. How’s my Spanish and Catalan? Practically non-existent.

Continue reading “Barcelona Bound” »

Graffiti in Athens, Greece

While we were travelling in Athens, we were struck by the graffiti. It’s everywhere. Walls and buildings from street level to six feet up are colored with a wandering scrawl of tags, marks, and words. In the midst of the gritty background though, there are moments of beauty. Paintings that communicate something greater.

The first picture I took was actually beneath an ATM in Naxos. The rest were taken around the neighborhoods of Psyrri, Monastiraki, and Gazi in Athens. As we made our way to the Hammam in Psyrri, we started taking some photos. Later, we ate a wonderful lunch at Gostijo and started to talk to the owner or waitress about graffiti. First, the food there was amazing and a welcome break from taverna fair. Second, we were so welcomed and after talking with the owner or waitress for a while, she marked on our map additional streets where interesting graffiti marked the walls.

More pictures from our travels will follow. For today, enjoy the graffiti gallery and a side of Athens that isn’t temples and ruins.

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Airbnb Customer Service Fail: He Said, She Said

Last weekend we booked our first room through airbnb.  We were excited.  We were going to a friend’s wedding.  It seemed like a great way to save some money, stay in an interesting part of the city, and have a unique experience.  However, a unique experience is not the same as a good experience.

Our first night, things went well.  The host was welcoming and kind.  The room and house were clean and nice.  It seemed great.  The second night, we got a text message from the host saying they would be out late and that a friend was going to stop by and take care of their dogs.  The host has two little dogs.

We were exhausted from a long drive the day before and the wedding that day.  All we wanted was a good night’s sleep.  That didn’t happen.  The host never came home that night and the dogs barked repeatedly, waking us up.  To the host’s credit, they did say we could call if there were any problems.  But, at three in the morning?  We weren’t comfortable calling and thought the host would return soon.  They never did.

Afterward, we wrote to the host and explained about the dogs.  The host’s response back was short and didn’t do much in the way of apologizing.  Next, we asked for a refund for that lost night of sleep and the host said, no.  Moving on, we wrote a review that was overall positive, but did mention the problem with the dogs and that this could be an issue for future guests.

That’s when things got out of control.  The host then wrote an extremely negative and false review of us full of incendiary language.  The host then contacted airbnb and complained about us.  The host misrepresented everything and airbnb apologized to the host and seemed to take the host’s side.  Why?  Was it because the host was an established user and we were not?  Was it because airbnb customer service did not bother to contact us or actually read all the emails?  We reviewed and rated our experience with the host, we did not attack their reputation.

In this situation, airbnb is in a delicate position.  Who is telling the truth?  How do they determine what is correct?  Are there guidelines published on the site?  Most people wouldn’t think that Craigslist would be responsible for deals gone awry, but with airbnb it’s different.  Why is that?  Partly, it’s how they’ve marketed their service.  They are trying to be a business.  They want users to be safe and believe in the goodness of people.

In viewing their terms of service, it’s clear that the host violated them in their review of us.  The terms clearly state that users will not post anything that is “(iii) is fraudulent, false, misleading or deceptive; (iv) is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive,” yet, where is the resolution in this?  Airbnb still needs to make a judgement and take a side.  They still need to listen to both parties involved.

It took multiple emails with the host to get them to change their review and that was only after we changed parts of our review.  We didn’t delete our profile, because we felt users needed this information.  However, what is a guest to do when a host attacks a guest’s reputation because they are upset with a review?  How is that fair?

It’s been two days since we’ve contacted airbnb and this morning we received a coupon for our next booking and an apology that looks like a form letter for our negative experience.  We are never using the service again and urging our friends not to use it.  The emails with the host and false reviews sucked up precious time and energy.  Airbnb is not a business; it’s a website with no control over its users.

Adventures: Return from Iceland

We flew in last night through a thunder storm, and finally reached our apartment around 10:30 pm.  It was roughly twenty hours of travel time from when we left the Capital Inn in Reykjavík and made it back to St. Louis.

I’ll have a more thorough post later about the wonderful trip and travelling in Iceland.  For now though, we’re happy to have tasty, affordable food; the peace of home, and the happy greetings from Auggie dog.

Adventures: Iceland

We leave for Iceland on Friday morning.  It seems like a long time ago when the idea of travelling came up.  Now, there are suitcases, packs, and camping gear strewn around the apartment.  Hostels have been booked, tickets purchased, and plans have been slightly dusted in volcanic ash.

It’s a strange trip to pack for as we are camping and hiking around the island, as well as spending time in Reykjavik.  It seems difficult to pack light as there’s so much to bring.  My fear is in the forgotten, that item I’ll be able to picture so well, left back home on the dining room table.  A camera perhaps?  Or, maybe a sleeping bag?

Tonight though, we’ll lay it all out, consult our Google doc of stuff to bring, and hope there are no more trips to REI.

Goals: Travel Overseas

R and I have been talking and one goal we both have is a trip somewhere cool.  India?  Chile?  Turkey?  Still planning, still scheming.  Any suggestions for great places to travel?